NED Celebrates International Human Rights Day

International Human Rights Day

International Human Rights Day is observed by the international community every year on December 10. It commemorates the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

NED is proud to stand with grantees all around the world who are working to improve human rights conditions in their countries. This year, we spotlight the work of grantees committed to improving the most dismal human rights environment in the world: North Korea.

Now, Action and Unity for Human Rights

Starvation, loss of limbs, government persecution, near drowning – any of these would have stopped most people, but not Ji Seong-ho, a North Korean activist and NED grantee who received the Oxi Courage Award in Washington, DC, on Oct. 26. 

After barely surviving a terrible accident in which he lost a leg and a hand in North Korea, Ji escaped the Hermit Kingdom and went on to establish and direct NED Grantee Now, Action and Unity for Human Rights, an organization that raises awareness about the dire human rights situation in North Korea. He told his harrowing tale of famine, tragedy, survival, and escape as he accepted his prize from NED President Carl Gershman, who sits on the Board of the Oxi Day Foundation. Learn more about Ji’s remarkable story.

NED Hosts High-Ranking DPRK Defector

Former North Korean diplomat Thae Yong Ho provided an insider’s perspective on the North Korean government when he visited Washington, DC, in November. Thae Yong Ho was a North Korean diplomat when he defected in London in 2016. During his first US visit, Thae shared his insights and observations on the world’s most secretive country. He noted that the North Korean system can only endure through a “reign of terror” and by preventing outside information getting in. But that task is increasingly difficult because of the availability inside North Korea of portable digital devices and easily hidden memory cards. Learn more about Thae Yong Ho.

NED Grantee Collects Evidence for Future Accountability Efforts in North Korea

Seoul-based Transitional Justice Working Group aims to map sites of mass killings and mass burials in North Korea so that, one day, evidence can be collected and the regime can be held responsible. Learn more about the Group’s important work.

NED Grantee Provides In-Country Reporting from North Korean journalists 

Seoul-based Daily NK is one of the largest and most influential online newspapers reporting North Korea-focused news and information. The paper has broken major news stories from inside North Korea, thanks to their carefully protected network of “underground stringers” in North Korea. In May, NED interviewed In Ho Park, a cofounder of Daily NK and head of its North Korean research department, who observed that “it’s very dangerous work.” Learn more about Daily NK’s reporting.


Learn about NED grantees working to further human rights in other parts of the world as well:


For most people, surviving a gunshot to the head, losing both your son and son-in-law to brutal murders, and being forced to flee your homeland would be grounds for giving up. But human rights champion Pierre Claver Mbonimpa isn’t most people. He received the 2017 Civil Courage Prize from the Fund for Global Human Rights in November 2017. Learn more about Pierre Claver Mbonimpa


As a teenager, Youk Chhang was swept into the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror. He experienced starvation and torture, and was forced to witness the murder of family members. Today, he helps other survivors of this violent past find some measure of justice. He received the Center for Justice and Accountability’s 2017 Judith Lee Stronach Human Rights Award in May 2017 for his work as Executive Director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-CAM), which collected hundreds of thousands of pages of documentation of crimes against humanity committed by the murderous Khmer Rouge regime. Learn more about Youk Chhang.


Since 2002, the Promo-LEX Association has established itself as the premier organization fostering human rights in Moldova, including the breakaway region of Transnistria, and furthering free and fair elections in the country. Learn more about the work of Promo-LEX Association.